I am not my job

I will never forget the moment when I realized I had made a massive mistake at work. I never truly understood the term “my stomach dropped” until that moment.

Photo: hobvias sudoneighm, Creative Commons

Photo: hobvias sudoneighm, Creative Commons

I was humiliated. I should’ve known better.

Despite everyone telling me that it was okay. Despite the fact that I had a track record of great work. Despite all of that, I let one mistake define me.

I was careless. I was a failure. I was a mistake.

No one said those words to me, but I believed them wholeheartedly. I had gotten to a point where my self-worth was completely tied up in my job.

When I had a day of successes, I was flying. I was queen of the world. When I made a mistake, I was in a slump that nothing could get me out of. This led to more slumps and more mistakes.

I thought this was my dream job. A high profile position at a high profile company. What I did was seen by hundreds of thousands of people each day. I was in constant demand. I was important.

Therein lies the issue.

I thought “I had an important job” was the same thing as “I am an important person”. Which translated to “I made a mistake” meaning the same thing as “I am a mistake”.

These are not the same thing. And thinking they were was toxic. You and me, we’re SO much more than our jobs.

I’m now about 14 months into a new job. And this above tweet from Louie Giglio defines my attitude about work. Since starting this new job, I’ve learned a few things:

My job is just a part of who I am. It’s not all of who I am. I am also a daughter, a friend, a sister, a cousin, a writer, a runner, a reader, and so much more.

Doing a job that isn’t all of me leaves so much more room for others. I can put other people’s needs before my own.

People like you a lot more when you aren’t constantly talking about work.

Taking off my “busy badge” was incredibly freeing. I’m no longer in a competition with the world to be the busiest. I’m just not playing that game anymore.

For 40 hours a week, I am completely dedicated to my work and I love it. But with the other hours, I can work on my story and my passions. I’m learning how to live a meaningful life.

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7 Responses to I am not my job

  1. I can relate. My job search a few years ago was tough. When things started looking really grim and I started seriously thinking of getting “any job”, I suddenly got depressed. I realized that I was attaching whatever job I got with who I was. Fortunately, an opportunity came up and I got the job I was looking for. And I learned a valuable lesson. No one cares about what I do. As long as I do it well, be a nice person, help others, am fun to be with and so on.

  2. FitSwitch says:

    What a great post. I have also had the dreaded “stomach drop” and as you described, it was a major self-esteem hit, but it didn’t need to be. It’s all about perspective, which is something I’m still working on. I think the same thing can be said about school – letting your grades define your worth. I think a lot of how we connect our work with our value starts back in high school and university. It takes a long time to un-learn!

    • lindsturner says:

      That’s such a great point! Our grades define us from such a young age. We become an “A student”, “B student” and that can stay with you as an adult. Not easy!

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